Love to Grow

  • Growing Leeks - The Haxnicks Way

    Growing Leeks using Rootrainers from Haxnicks

    The leek is an unique vegetable which belongs to the allium family and is also a relative of the onion.

    Leeks are often overlooked as vegetables and yet they are the most undemanding and one of the most rewarding vegetables that you can plant. The plants are exceptionally easy to raise and are relatively pest free as well as not minding cold conditions.

    The leek is usually grown in the cooler part of the year and prefers a lightly limed soil. Leeks are usually grown alongside carrots, onions, garlic, parsnips and other root crops, but rotation is important and where possible leeks and onions should not be grown on the same patch for at least three years.

    The leek grows slowly and steadily over a relatively long period of time (4 to 6 months) and so the sooner the seeds are sown the larger the leeks will grow. In gardens leeks are usually transplanted from seed beds when they reach a length of 15 – 17cm and are as thick as a pencil (about 3 months of growth).

    1. Fill a Slim (Rannoch) Rootrainer Tray with good quality peat free compost
    2. Sow the seeds thinly into each cell in at the earliest mid-February/March (about 4 to six seeds in each cell)
    3. Cover the tray with the clear propagating lid
    4. Leave to germinate in a warm but not too warm place
    5. Remove lid once plants have emerged and use as a drip tray under the tray and grow on in good light

    Once the plants are ready, plant out into a deep, rich well composted and moist soil.

    Make 15cm deep holes with a garden stake and place the seedling into the hole. Don’t close the hole with soil but rather water the plant, which will close the hole with the right amount of soil.

    As the leeks mature mound up the soil to keep the shanks blanched white.

    Watering of the young plants is vital until they are well established and weeding is just as essential.

    Haxnicks' SpeedHoe in full usageLeeks are harvested by first loosening the plant with a fork pushed vertically downwards several inches from the row and then they can be pulled out with no damage and not too much soil disturbance.

    We like to end on a Tip and so why not use our Speedhoe to keep those weeds down. Speedhoe is a well recognised easy and chemical free way to keep vegetable patches free of weeds.

  • Growing Carrots And Parsnips

    Haxnicks' Vigoroot Pots Full Of Life
    Carrots and parsnips are sown directly into the garden but they can be sown in our Patio Planter range and then they can be either left outside the Kitchen door or on a Balcony for easy access or transplanted when they reach a suitable size.

    Both Carrots and Parsnips are crops that can be grown all year round (as is the leek) and will grow in all conditions except extreme heat. A crop rotation system with leeks, onions, garlic and other root crops is very recommended if you have the space to spare. (However with Patio Planter this is not necessary)

    If you do plant out it is a good idea to intersperse the rows of carrots with rows of onions or garlic as the smell will keep pests away from the carrots.

    Once the seedlings are about 2” tall they should be thinned out to about 1” apart and when 6” tall to 2” apart. At this stage excessive or overwatering should be avoided as it will tend to crack the roots.

    Remember if you still have carrots and parsnips in the ground by mid-November they should be lifted before the heavy frosts and they can be stored in a cool place for up to 5 months.

  • Growing Tomatoes - Make it a New Year Resolution

    Growing Tomatoes with Haxnicks Tomato Patio PlanterThe snow is fresh and the climate unseasonally cold. We should be promoting Frost protection and ideas to keep your plants and seedlings warm... But let's look at a more cheery topic.

    The tomato is a delicate or tender perennial which is grown as an annual and when raised in your greenhouse is very successful.

    One of the best reasons for growing your own tomatoes is that you can be sure that they are chemical spray free as well as the fact that a greenhouse tomato tastes far better than any supermarket product, firstly because it is picked and eaten immediately while it is warm (refrigerated tomatoes become bland in taste and secondly the flavour is better because it does not have to travel – something a tomato does not like.

    There are over 3 000 tomato varieties to choose from and you should ensure that you grow several different varieties which will not only add interest but also ensure against an inferior crop from one variety. I have listed a few that you might like to try - “Gardener’s Delight” is probably the best variety for flavour, yield, early results and easy growing. One of the best cherry varieties is “Sweet 100” and if you want a small yellow tomato then go for “Sunbelle”. “Shirley” is a good red normal size tomato variety which is disease resistant and “Big Boy” is a large red, beefsteak tomato with very few seeds which is ideal for cooking. “Brandy Wine”, another beefsteak variety has an amazing flavour.

    Tomato plants can be bought at garden centres but many people prefer the satisfaction and taste that you get with growing your own. Plants that have been on display for any length of time become affected by too much heat and little or no light. It is much more rewarding to raise your own from seed. Remember that if you are going to raise 3 or 4 different varieties deep modular, hinged opening cell trays like Rootrainers are extremely useful as they are both space and time saving.

    Tomato seed is sown in a propagator and a temperature of 60°- 65°F is needed for successful germination. If you have a heated greenhouse seed can be sown in late December for planting out in late February or early March for a May/June crop. Most gardeners only have cold houses and then seed should be sown in a propagator in early March and planted out late April for a July crop.

    1. Fill the Rootrainers with the peat free compost
    2. Sow the seeds in late February for an early crop and 4 weeks later for the main crop
    3. Cover the Rootrainer tray with the clear propagating lid and leave in a warm area till seeds have germinated
    4. Remove lid and use under tray as water catcher once plants get tall

    There is no need to prick out plants until you are ready to plant them in their fruiting positions. We offer two types of Patio Planters especially designed for Tomatoes and also offer a Cane Support Planter - New in 2010.

    Soft-tie is the ultimate garden tie for delicate plants like Tomatoes and can be reused again and again.

    Feed once a week with a weak solution of liquid feed. You stand a better chance keeping Tomatoes in a Greenhouse or why not make use of the New Haxnicks Grower System a Garden Tunnel designed for taller plants.

    Pick your Tomatoes when they are just turning red and as a tip if it appears that your tomatoes are never going to ripen, pick them and place them in a dark place with a single red tomato. The other will soon get the message.

  • Christmas at Haxnicks!

    Happy Christmas from Haxnicks
    Here comes Christmas, the offices are festooned with decorations and everyone is starting to get excited!

    For the serious gardener, pretty much any Haxnicks product makes a cracking present, but for those of you who are still struggling to complete that oh so challenging gift list, I thought I'd highlight the best that we have to offer when it comes to getting the perfect present.

    You'll find everything on our website, just tap in the name in the search box.

    Victorian Bell Cloches for GardensHaxnicks Glass Bell Jars are a popular gift item, being aesthetically pleasing AND very practical - whether sitting over a prized plant in the garden, detering pests, cats, frost, children and any number of other hazards, or taking a more domestic role as a cheeseboard cover/cake cover, these bells will always make an original and successful present.

    The Bell Jars are available in 3 different sizes - follow the labels at the end of the article for more information...

    The Haxnicks Jute Naturally range has some brilliant Christmas bits and bobs...

    Jute Sacks from Haxnicks for CompostingJute Insulation roll comes in a very festive green or red, and also in a natural jute colour. Although we designed this for insulating pots, it is also used for wrapping up water pipes against the frost, decorating the Christmas tree pot, and any number of other jobs where a natural look and a bit of colour make all the difference. The rolls are complimented by Jute Naturally Ribbon, also in Red, Green and Natural.

    Designer Easy Fleece Jackets from HaxnicksDesigner Fleece Jackets are as colourful as you can get when it comes to frost protection!!! Available in 3 different designs, Autumn leaf, Green Leaf, and Snowflake, these jackets are designed to slip over your pot plants/hanging baskets/ferns etc, or any other plant that can't be moved in for protection from the frosts. We have produced green fleece jackets very successfully for many years, but now have a more colourful option for those that like a bit more fun in an otherwise drab winter garden.

    I hope some of these ideas help out with the shopping stress - I haven't started shopping yet, but there and again I've got some ideas.

    Happy Christmas from all at Haxnicks, and we look forward to hearing from you in the New Year.

  • Growing Sweet Potatoes

    Growing Sweet Potatoes with HaxnicksThe Sweet potato is a versatile and increasingly popular vegetable and is certainly able to grow outdoors in the milder areas of the UK. In other areas it does well in the greenhouse, glasshouse or polytunnel. It is a scrambling, tender perennial closely related to Morning Glories and it grown as an annual and harvested in the early autumn.

    1. Take a few clean sweet potatoes and place into a container
    2. Cover them with peat and keep damp
    3. Leave in a warm place
    4. When ‘slips’ emerge from the surface to a height of 20cm, trim them off
    5. Pot into Compact Rootrainers and allow to grow on.

    When all frost danger is finished place them into their growing place. In late September, carefully dig them up. Leave for one week to mature in a warm place (allows skins to set and flavour to sweeten)

    Alternatively, order cuttings or slips, which will be delivered from late April onwards and pot the cuttings immediately into the Compact Rootrainer trays.

  • Growing Cuttings

    Growing Cuttings with HaxnicksRootrainers – Perfect for Cuttings
    Almost anything can be grown from a cutting. It is also an easy and cheap way to obtain more plants. It is also an excellent way to keep your half-hardy perennials from year to year. Rootrainers excel with cuttings of all types.

    With cuttings, good preparation is essential. In particular the seed tray, compost mix and the moisture are vital.

    In late summer, take a few cuttings from your container plants, hanging basket plants and half-hardy border plants and root them in the greenhouse and then pot them up.

    No Re-Potting with Rootrainers
    Cuttings love a lot of side – that is why most cuttings are initially placed around the side of a large pot, or in very small pots, to be re-potted later. But, re-potting requires skilled timing, and will cause root disturbance.

    Rootrainers are small pots, with a massive amount of side. But, unlike small pots they have depth and don’t become pot-bound, so timing ceases to be critical and there is no re-potting.

    Quick Growth
    Try any nodal, stem, leaf or root cutting for success. The encouragement of quick root growth and natural air pruning achieved by Rootrainers will create a marvellous root plug. Some cuttings can be ready and planted up within a very short space of time, but others can be left in over winter and even longer if you want to grow semi-standards.

    Compost MixUsing Haxnicks Rootrainers to grow Cuttings
    (This mix is sufficient for two trays of the 3”/8cm Rootrainer seed trays - typically an ideal pot size for cuttings)

    Using a 12cm pot, mix:

    • 8 pots of multi-purpose compost;
    • 3 pots of perlite or vermiculite; and
    • ½ pot of grit or sand (for free drainage).

    Mix all the components together well. Fill the trays as you would for seed sowing, making sure the compost comes level with the top of each cell.

    Cell Size
    Most cuttings will prefer the 8cm Rapid (Shrub) size - it is ideal for geraniums, fuchsias, marguerites, chrysanthemums, lavenders and shrubs.

    They can be grown in the longer 12cm Deep (Sherwood) size, but it is generally desirable to get the air-pruning in earlier to encourage new root growth at the first opportunity, and this will occur more quickly in the 8cm size.

    It should also be noted if you are going to place your cutting later in a house pot or a hanging basket, it may not be desirable to have a longer root system.

    The 12cm Deep (Sherwood) size is excellent for hardwood cuttings, soft-fruits, clematis nodal cuttings or oriental poppy root cuttings and similar plants. The longer cell is excellent for retaining semi-standards grown from fuchsia cuttings etc, where they can be held in a Rootrainers for well over a year.

    Many cuttings can be placed in either size according to individual preferences and circumstances, but in all instances success with cuttings will be easier, difficulties fewer, handling will be less, compost and space will be saved, and the plants will be stronger if you use Rootrainers.

    Watering - Preparing your Seed Trays for CuttingsPlanting seeds in Haxnicks Rootrainers
    Before planting your cuttings give the seed trays a good soaking using a watering can.

    Leave the seed trays with their plastic lids on to conserve water while you select your cuttings.

    Hardy cuttings need to be placed in a sheltered position away from full sun – ideally in a cold frame. Put them somewhere handy so that they can be looked at daily. If the leaves of the cuttings look a little wilted then, using a water sprayer, you can give them a light spray.

    On-Going Watering During Propagation
    With Rootrainers, it is easy to check moisture levels and how the roots are doing. Just open the ‘book’, check and re-close. But - a little hint! Don’t open them until the plant is reasonably established and the roots have hit the side; otherwise you may just be pulling the soil away from the roots and weakening the strength of the plug.

    Rootrainers packs come with a clear plastic propagating-lid, which sits on top of the tray and retains the moisture and warmth. This can be easily removed and replaced for watering, and provides the ideal growing environment for most cuttings - but do not use the lid for geraniums and other plants that do not like humidity.

    When plants have developed sufficiently, the lid can be placed under the tray for capillary watering if desired, and for clean handling – ideal if you are keeping or over-wintering plants indoors.

  • Container Gardening with Compact Rapid Rootrainers

    Haxnicks' Compact Rapid RootrainersHerbs All The Year Round!

    Herbs are really so easy to grow and if picked fresh add an extra special zest to food that can't be achieved with the dried varieties. The beauty of growing your own herbs is that you can keep a tray of parsley, mint, chervil, coriander, sage and thyme on your windowsill and you don't even have to go outside in the rain to pick what you need!

    One of the easiest ways to grow your herbs is to take a Compact Rapid Rootrainer tray, fill it with good multipurpose moist compost and sow your seeds into the cells, cover with the propagating lid and leave for about a fortnight to germinate.

    Once the seedlings begin to emerge the tray can then be placed on a windowsill where it gets adequate light and as the plants grow the lid can then be taken off and used as a drip tray.

    Remember that herbs do not tolerate north facing windows and prefer a window that get at least 4 hours of direct sunshine per day.

    Without a plentiful source of light most indoor herbs will slow down or even stop growing. If you find this happening you should reduce the picking of the herbs as well as reducing the watering. Make sure the indoor temperature is not in excess of 65 degrees until plant growth restarts.

    It must also be remembered that not every herb likes living indoors.

    Herbs like coriander, cress and dill are annuals which when harvested and cut need to be re-sown in order to produce a continuous crop. So it is a good idea to keep 3 trays of these herbs at different stages for a continuous supply.

    Herbs that are grown indoors should be clipped or have leaves picked regularly to encourage new growth and it must be remembered that potted herbs dry out more quickly than those in the open ground, although if you are using Rootrainers the structure of the cell encourages a maximization of all water to the roots.

    Herbs with large soft leaves such as basil need a fine spray to humidify the air on hot days. Indoor herbs should be fed every 2 weeks with a liquid fertilizer to help maintain vigorous growth.

  • Top Tips for Using Rootrainers

    Rootrainers are so easy to use and make seed sowing a pleasure. Here is a whole host of Top Tips, to get the most out of growing with Rootrainers.

    The Five Inch Rule
    If you prepare the ground well and place in plants with a five-inch deep mature root system, little should go wrong. Plants suffer no check and are deep enough to withstand most vagaries of weather.

    Rooting Cuttings
    Rootrainers are ideal for cuttings. Take your cuttings, dip into rooting powder and just insert in a cell.

    For Large Seeds
    When planting large seeds, such as beans, gently press the seed down into compost with your finger.

    Large Leafed Plants
    If using Rootrainers seed trays with large leafy plants use every other cell or use the Compact Rapid, which has been specially designed for this purpose.

    Fragile Plants
    Rootrainers are ideal for fragile plants, such as sweet peas.

    Emerging Seedlings
    As soon as seeds begin to emerge from the soil, remove lid or take trays out of the propagator. The Rootrainers lid cleverly becomes the drip tray.

    Small Seeds
    Small seeds can be first sown in seed trays and then pricked out into Rootrainers.

    White Fly
    One brassica grower claimed he had never suffered from white fly since he had used Rootrainers.

    Under Bench Heating
    Under bench heating will promote even quicker root growth, without inhibiting top growth.

    Cuttings and Pot Size
    Most cuttings benefit from a shorter pot to encourage early air pruning of the root system.

    Remember that as the season warms up you will need to water your plants and seedlings thoroughly to prevent drying out.

    Stem Cuttings
    Stem cuttings can be taken all year round but do best in Spring and Summer. If you use The Rooterpot you can be sure of success in ONE season.

    Planting Out Plug Plants
    Remember when planting out plug plants to make sure that the top of the soil plug is completely covered to allow the plant to seat.

    Water collected from a water butt should not be used to water seedlings. Use tap water which has stood for a couple of hours to allow the chlorine to disappear.

    Houseplants Love Aquarium Water!
    Don't throw the water from your aquarium away, keep it in bottles for your houseplants and watch them flourish.

    Lilies And Tulips
    Lilies and Tulips should never be planted together because they suffer from the same diseases.

    Planting Tulips
    Tulips should not be planted in the same spot for 2 consecutive years, but if African Marigolds are planted where the tulips have flowered there will be no problem in using the same spot again.

    Azaleas like acidic soil and it is a good idea to water them once in a while with a mix of 2 tablespoons of white vinegar to 2 pints of water.

    If you have any tips that you'd like to share please add to the list below: Drop us a comment.

  • The Flower Garden - Sweetpeas

    Growing Sweet-peas using Haxnicks RootrainersSweet Peas are an excellent early cut flower to grow and they thrive if you have a polytunnel. They are also very hardy and very easy to grow. They produce a good crop of long stemmed and sweet smelling flowers, whilst taking up only a small area of ground.

    Two sowings should be made, one in November for inside flowering and a second in January for outside flowering. The Deep (Sherwood) Rootrainer and the Rowplanter are ideal to sow into.

    Fill the cells of the Rootrainer tray with good multi-purpose compost and wet it thoroughly then sow one seed into each cell about 2cm deep. If you are using the Rowplanter, place the seeds 15cm apart.

    If you have a heated propagator then place the tray into it or else cover the tray with the propagating lid and leave until the first seeds emerge.

    At this stage the trays should be transferred to a bench in the polytunnel (if you have one), or they can be left in the greenhouse to slowly grow on. When the plants have three leaves, pinch out the tops so that the resulting side shoots become stronger and more vigorous than the main stem.

    In February/March they can be planted out in the polytunnel in double rows with the plants spaced 15cm apart. If you are using the Rowplanter, you will simply need to slide the rows into the prepared trenches.

    It will then be necessary to fix a vertical net to allow the plants to climb or alternatively to tie each plant to its own cane with sweet pea rings.

    All that is then needed is to water well and harvest the blooms regularly, not leaving any to form pods.

    As soon as the blooms become short stemmed, pull up the plants and replace with the summer crop.

    Remember that you can leave the plants in Rootrainers until the weather is warm enough to plant outside.

  • Plug Plants

    Growing plants with Haxnicks RootrainersIf you have not had the time to sow seeds early on, or the facilities to look after them, then buy bedding plants as plugs from the garden centre is the answer.

    They will grow on quite happily, without the need for heating and special conditions, until the weather is warmer and they can be planted out into the garden.

    Most types of bedding plants are available as plug plants and are sold in the garden centres and mail order catalogues in modular trays.

    Once you have brought your plug plants home:

    • Fill a Deep (Sherwood) Rootrainer with moist multipurpose compost
    • Dib the plug plants in and firm the surface
    • Water well with a fine spray so as not to damage the delicate stems
    • Place on a sunny windowsill or in the greenhouse till all danger of frost is passed (late May/early June) and the plants can safely be sited outside

    Once ready for transplanting simply open the ‘books’ and transfer the plant to its position with absolutely no root disturbance at all.

    RowplantersGrowing Seeds in Haxnicks Rootrainers
    The Rowplanter is also an ideal product for growing plug plants. The Rowplanter is based on the traditional method of gutter planting. This method has been proven to give plants a head start and with this product transplanting was never easier. When they are ready for transplanting, you simply gently slide the whole content of the row out into the prepared trench and there is absolutely no root disturbance and the plants are sited exactly as you wish.

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